The Kansas Jayhawks took a page out of in-state rival Kansas State's playbook in the 2013 recruiting class, inking 19 junior-college prospects in a class of 26 in the hopes of turning around a program that has declined since the Orange Bowl appearance in 2008.
So far, the Jayhawks have turned to high school prospects to start the 2014 class and Weis looks for more long-term solutions to the talent gap that exists between Kansas and the rest of the Big 12. In the early going, there's been some success, especially in keeping one of the top players in the state there for college and landing another prospect with a national offer list.
Traevonh Wrench, Gardner (Kansas) Edgerton running back
6'0 | 180 pounds | **** | no. 19 running back | no. 2 player in Kansas
One of the biggest commitments in Weis' short tenure, Wrench chose the Jayhawks in early March of 2013 over offers from Iowa, Kansas State, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
A tall, lean back who is perhaps a little more high cut than ideal for a running back, Wrench will need to work on his pad level in college, as well as his lower body strength, in an effort to avoid big hits and move the pile after contact, though when he does get behind his pads, he can break tackles. Mostly a straight-line runner, Wrench doesn't have much lateral ability, but he does have decent top-end speed.
Kyron Watson, East St. Louis (Illinois) linebacker
6'1 | 225 pounds | *** | no. 29 linebacker | no. 11 player in Illinois
Perhaps an even more important pledge for Kansas than that of Wrench, Watson committed in the middle of May of 2013 over offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Purdue, Syracuse, and TCU. It was also a bit of a surprise -- the industry consensus was that Watson would end up as a Wolverine pledge, though the battle is probably not over for his services.
A vicious hitter who can bend, wrap up, explode, and finish ballcarriers with evil intentions, Watson also has a nose for the football and enough speed to compete in a spread league that values range perhaps above all else. He also forces turnovers with multiple interceptions and forced fumbles as a junior. Watson comes downhill fast and hard and although he may have some trouble at the college level when he will have to deal with blockers more often, in high school his initial quickness is so good that he can get into the backfield unimpeded.
Bobby Hartzog, Houston (Texas) Westside wide receiver
5'11 | 186 pounds | *** | no. 172 wide receiver nationally | no. 186 player in Texas
A late September pledge to Charlie Weis and his staff, Hartzog chose the Jayhawks over offers from Arkansas State, Houston, Iowa State, McNeese State, UTSA, and Utah. With a 4.16 shuttle time, Hartzog has excellent short-area quickness, which makes him a valuable threat for Westside in the quick passing game, where he can avoid defenders and use his balance to break tackles. For a smaller player who projects inside in college, Hartzog does an impressive job of elevating in traffic, using his athleticism, hands, and body control to bring down tough catches.
Jacob Bragg, Nacogdoches (Texas) center
6'3 | 315 pounds | *** | no. 10 center nationally | no. 86 player in Texas
Originally considered one of the top offensive lineman in the state for 2014, Bragg has fallen in the rankings despite invites to The Opening and the US Army All-American game. The June pledge to Kansas had one other offer, from Louisiana Tech. At the Dallas Nike camp, Bragg was one of the few prospects who could anchor against a good group of opposing defensive lineman, which he backs up on film. A strong player, Bragg doesn't project as a plus blocker at the second level in college, as his best attributes are shown in small spaces. All told, Bragg looks more like a player who deserved the invite to The Opening than a guy with one BCS offer.
Joe Dineen, Lawrence (Kansas) Free State athlete
6'2 | 200 pounds | *** | no. 134 athlete nationally | no. 13 player in Kansas
A player who projects as a safety at Kansas, Dineen committed in late May over an offer from Rice. Dineen has quick feet and a willingness to wrap up and drive through opponents as a safety, the same physicality translates to his running style on offense, as he plays some quarterback and running back for Free State in addition to starring on defense.
Austin Stevens, Montclair (N.J.) tight end
6'4 | 220 pounds | ** | no. 94 tight end | no. 52 player in New Jersey
The September pledge to Kansas also held offers from Boston College, UMass, Old Dominion, Rutgers, and Temple. As a defensive end in high school, Stevens is more fluid than he is explosive and has a long, lean frame with plenty of room for growth. On offense, he's at his best as a blocker and needs to improve on virtually every element of his game as a pass catcher.
Tyler Patrick, Spring (Texas) The Woodlands wide receiver
5'11 | 167 pounds | ** | no. 274 wide receiver nationally | no. 346 player in Texas
Patrick waited about a month after receiving his Kansas offer in June to pull the trigger for the Jaywhawks. His other options were Air Force, Lamar, Louisiana-Monroe, and Sam Houston State. With reported 4.45 40 speed and a 4.06 40, Patrick adds value as a prospect because of his ability as a returner on special teams. He hasn't spent much time at receiver, but his speed is impressive on film, though he looks like a predominantly straight-line player without much evidence of his shuttle time translating to make-you-miss ability with the ball.
Apa Visinia, Grandview (Missouri) offensive guard
6'3 | 354 pounds | ** | no. 105 offensive guard nationally | no. 29 player in Missouri
Without any other offers, Visinia ended his recruitment upon being offered by Kansas. Given his weight, Visinia would be well served by trying to reshape his body somewhat, but he's also just a naturally very large human being, as evidenced by his massive thighs that translate into legitimate lower-body strength and power. Remarkably mobile for his size, Visinia isn't going to be a move player at his weight, but could combine with Bragg to form a combo-blocking tandem that would be hard to resist.
National Signing Day is still more than three months away. Verbal commitments are non-binding and change frequently.
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